UAW Calls on Auto Industry to Cut Ties to State-Sponsored Forced Labor in China

In light of a report released today on the high risk of widespread state-sponsored forced labor in the automotive supply chains by the government of China and previous evidence of human rights atrocities in the Uyghur Region, the UAW urgently calls on the automotive industry to shift its entire supply chain out of the region and invest in good paying jobs in the United States to help meet its supply chain demands.

The report, Driving Force: Automotive Supply Chains and Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region released today by Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice documents the potential exposure major automotive brands have to Uyghur forced labor in their supply chains. The report examines production of steel, aluminum and copper, EV and lead acid batteries, electronics, and other components used in the global automotive supply chain.

It has been reported that since 2017, up to 2 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been held in detainment camps in the Uyghur Region through government programs sanctioned by the People’s Republic of China. The camps employ forced labor, family separation, cultural erasure, forced sterilization, sexual violence, and physical and psychological abuse. The most recent report documents production facilities located near detainment camps and Uyghur communities that are the source of the state-sponsored forced labor.

“Forced labor and other human rights abuses are unacceptable in the modern global economy,” said Ray Curry, President of the UAW. “The time is now for the auto industry to establish high-road supply chain models outside the Uyghur Region that protect labor and human rights and the environment. This includes significant re-investments in good union jobs in the U.S.”

“As the automotive industry transitions towards electric vehicles, the new EV tax credit program and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) creates economic opportunities for the industry to bring manufacturing work back into the United States and create good union jobs,” Curry added.

The UAW and its allies helped to win passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) last year with overwhelming bipartisan support. The law went into effect in June. Under the UFLPA, it is presumed commodities and components made in whole or in part in the Uyghur Region are produced using forced labor and cannot be imported into the United States.

“The U.S. government must devote the necessary resources to allow Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to effectively identify and ban the importation of products made with forced labor,” said Curry, “we also urge all global auto brands and suppliers to work together to immediately take meaningful, transparent steps to ensure its supply chains are not tainted with Uyghur forced labor. The UAW will work with allies and other responsibly minded stakeholders in the U.S. and around the world to help end these labor and human rights atrocities.”

The UAW has a long and rich history of fighting on behalf of workers’ rights around the world. From its critical work in the 1980s in support of workers fighting the Apartheid regime in South Africa, to more recent efforts in helping to win the release of unjustly imprisoned trade unionists in South Korea and Brazil, the UAW continues to be a champion of worker justice at home and abroad.